The aviation industry is coming together to help ease the COVID-19 crisis.
“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”
– Pauline R. Kezer, former Connecticut state legislator
Whether it’s donating time, materials, manufacturing capabilities or aircraft to deliver critical supplies, private, business, and commercial aviation companies are stepping forward to aid in the pandemic.
You’ve heard the old sayings about how a crisis brings out the best in people. And, in some instances, one of the things it brings out is a change in how an industry is perceived. And that can be a very good thing.
Let’s face it: everyone in our industry is well aware that the public’s perception of private, business, and commercial aviation hasn’t always been entirely positive. After all, it’s the negative news that gets the most attention.
But while the coronavirus’s impact on humanity has been horrendous, the crisis has also given people a look at the hearts and souls of the tens of thousands of men and women around the world who make up the aviation industry.
“It’s extremely commendable and gracious of the business aviation industry, and the hard-hit aviation community as a whole, to do what they are doing to help individuals and communities around the world,” said Michelle Munoz-Talcott, Viasat’s marketing director for global mobile solutions. “This is the good news—people and organizations helping out.”
As Munoz-Talcott stated, every day we hear more stories of how aircraft manufacturers, airlines, aviation service providers, and others are stepping up to do whatever they can to help. Here are just a few recent examples:
- Helicopter operator HeliJet is offering free flights for medical professionals in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area.
- Corporate Angel Network continues to receive support from the business aviation community so it can meet the demand to fly cancer patients for lifesaving treatments.
- Viasat is participating in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s Keep America Connected pledge, waiving late fees and opening available Wi-Fi hotspots.
- NetJets provided two Global 6000 jets to fly to China to pick up over 5.5 tons of masks and other medical equipment for New York’s Mount Sinai Health System.
- Dassault Aviation has placed two Falcon business jets in service for the French Defense Ministry as part of Operation Resilience.
- Canadian training specialist CAE is manufacturing ventilators and providing complimentary training for health-care personnel.
- Boeing, CAE, Piper Aircraft, and Universal Avionics are manufacturing plastic face shields.
- Boeing is deploying DreamLifter transports to deliver critical medical supplies.
- Airbus is using an A350-100 to carry millions of masks from China to France, Germany, Spain, and the UK.
- Embraer has started manufacturing critical ventilator parts.
- Qatar Airways deployed five freighters to carry over 2.5 million face masks and 500,000 bottles of hand sanitizer.
- Southwest Airlines flight attendants are making face masks for hospitals and nursing homes.
- Textron Aviation is donating face masks and other vital medical supplies.
- Universal Weather and Aviation provided trip logistics and other services for the New England Patriots football team’s Boeing 767 to fly to China to pick up critically needed masks and supplies.
- Multiple airlines and air service providers are donating money and supplies to hospitals and charitable organizations.
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), the shared carrier of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, is working with Hemmet University, a school in Stockholm, Sweden, to provide medical training for 30 of its furloughed flight attendants.
This is only a sampling of the outpouring of services, donations, and types of aid that communities and individuals around the world are receiving from the aviation industry. There are so many more.
Staying connected. Staying involved.
“We are going through extraordinary times right now,” says James Person, Viasat’s senior director, global business development, Business Aviation Division. “This is the most far-reaching global event that the majority of us have ever experienced. It is literally touching everyone on the planet.
“From Viasat’s perspective, we are seeing the need for people to be digitally connected in more ways than they ever have been before,” he continued. “With the need for social distancing, for the short term anyway, most of us are going to need to rely on being remotely connected.”
As a global high-speed, satellite-based internet service provider, Viasat is on the front lines of keeping individuals, businesses, military, and government leaders connected through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Person stressed that Viasat’s entire global organization is committed to keeping individuals, businesses, schools, and government entities connected—whether they need audio or video conferencing or just information on the web.
Munoz-Talcott explained that one critical difference between the connectivity solutions provided by Viasat and a regular commercial provider is the infrastructure her company has in place to provide high levels of network capabilities and reliability.
“We operate two satellite networks and serve critical markets with high-speed connectivity,” she added. “We offer home and business internet as well as secure connections for government and military users. And, of course, for private, business, and commercial aviation.”
Person stressed that when the world’s businesses do start getting back to normal, private and corporate aviation will be critical to speeding an economic recovery.
“As businesses returns to more traditional operations, more travelers will be flying either on company or charter aircraft, so business aviation will be key to jumpstarting the global recovery,” he said. “Because of that, the need for the safety and security that private aviation provides will be more valuable than ever.”
“Going forward, executive travelers’ need to stay connected will be doubly important not only for business communications but also to keep in touch with loved ones back home,” Person added. “In just the past few months, access to reliable, fast, and secure connectivity on personal, business, and charter aircraft has gone from being a convenient-to-have feature to a must-have one.”
Viasat: Delivering US DOD level data security: 24/7/365
Of course, as the need for data connectivity grows, so do security risks to that vital information. As a leading provider of SATCOM-based connectivity solutions for U.S. government aircraft, Viasat’s networks are as secure as they come.
“As one of two companies that share data with the U.S. government about threat vectors, we deliver what we feel is the most secure airborne network in the world,” Person says. “And because it’s the same network that our business aircraft customers use, they can take advantage of that unmatched level of security.”